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Solidarity Wins Poland Election - History

Solidarity Wins Poland Election - History

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On June 5th, the Solidarity movement won, by an overwhelming majority, in the first free election in Poland. The elections came after an agreement was reached in April between the government and Solidarity, which called for free elections. Soldarity won 96 out of 100 seats in the new Senate. The overwhelming voice of the people forced Poland's Communists to concede defeat and resign. When the Soviets did nothing to forestall these actions, Communists regimes in the rest of Europe were doomed.

1989 Polish legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Poland in 1989 to elect members of the Sejm and the recreated Senate. The first round took place on 4 June, with a second round on 18 June. They were the first elections in the country since the Communist Polish United Workers Party abandoned its monopoly of power in April 1989.

Not all parliamentary seats were contested, but the resounding victory of the Solidarity opposition in the freely contested races paved the way to the end of communist rule in Poland. Solidarity won all of the freely contested seats in the Sejm, and all but one seat in the entirely freely contested Senate. In the aftermath of the elections, Poland became the first country of the Eastern Bloc in which democratically elected representatives gained real power. [1] Although the elections were not entirely democratic, they led to the formation of a government led by Tadeusz Mazowiecki and a peaceful transition to democracy in Poland and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. [2] [3] [4]

Pre&ndash1980 roots

In the 1970s and 1980s, the initial success of Solidarity in particular, and of dissident movements in general, was fed by a deepening crisis within Soviet-style societies brought about by declining morale, worsening economic conditions (a shortage economy), and the growing stresses of the Cold War.

After a brief period of economic boom, from 1975 the policies of the Polish government, led by Party First Secretary Edward Gierek, precipitated a slide into increasing depression, as foreign debt mounted. In June 1976, the first workers' strikes took place, involving violent incidents at factories in Radom and Ursus. When these incidents were quelled by the government, the worker's movement received support from intellectual dissidents, many of them associated with the Committee for Defense of the Workers ( Polish: Komitet Obrony Robotników , abbreviated KOR), formed in 1976. The following year, KOR was renamed the Committee for Social Self-defence (KSS-KOR).

On October 16, 1978, the Bishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyᐪ, was elected Pope John Paul II. A year later, during his first pilgrimage to Poland, his masses were attended by millions of his countrymen. The Pope called for the respecting of national and religious traditions and advocated for freedom and human rights, while denouncing violence. To many Poles, he represented a spiritual and moral force that could be set against brute material forces he was a bellwether of change, and became an important symbol&mdashand supporter&mdashof changes to come.

Big Solidarity Victory Seen in Poland

In their first chance to express at the ballot box their feelings about 44 years of Communist rule, Polish voters today appeared to have voted overwhelmingly for candidates endorsed by the Solidarity opposition and to have endangered many unopposed Communists whose election was thought to have been insured by the intricate election rules.

Informal samplings by foreign journalists and exit polls conducted by the opposition raised the prospect that the Communists could fall short, in what would be a crushing setback, of the majority of 65 percent of the seats in the Parliament's lower house that had been guaranteed to them and their supporters by their agreement with Solidarity.

Communist candidates and their allies, running unopposed and on a separate election list from opposition and independent candidates, appeared to be failing in many cases to get the 50 percent of the votes cast that is required for their election to be certified. If they fail to get 50 percent, their seats are supposed to be declared vacant. Majorities Seen for Solidarity

Although the system of separate lists was contrived to minimize comparisons between the support for the Communists and support for Solidarity, it seemed clear that many more votes were cast for opposition candidates than for supporters of the regime.

By contrast, candidates endorsed by the Solidarity movement - which became a legal organization again less than two months ago - appeared to be rolling up huge majorities in races for the lower house, called the Assembly, and the Senate.

The contest for the 100 seats in the Senate was an open one, conducted with a single list of candidates, and there Solidarity's nominees appeared to be on their way to a solid majority in the most open election the Soviet bloc has seen in more than four decades.

Official results were not expected until later in the week but if the results for the Communists and their allies were as poor as the samplings and exit polls indicated, the opposition may have exceeded its expectations to such an extent as to endanger Solidarity's agreement with the regime of President Wojciech Jaruzelski.

Under the agreement, the governing party needs its guaranteed 299 seats in the 460-member Assembly to assure General Jaruzelski's election as President in an indirect vote by the Parliament's two chambers. Communist officials have hinted that they might then seek to block the convening of the Parliament on constitutional grounds, pointing to a requirement that all 460 seats in the Assembly be filled. Walesa Not a Candidate

The Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa, who was not standing as a candidate, expressed anxiety about the effects of lopsided results in favor of his movement. ''I think that too big a percentage of our people getting through would be disturbing and might force a fight on us,'' Mr. Walesa said after casting his vote in the Oliwa district of Gdansk, his hometown, according to Reuters.

Though the day was sunny, voter turnout appeared low. The Government said that turnout by 7:30 P.M. varied considerably by province. Low attendance was marked in Lodz, where only 40.9 percent voted, and Bialystok, 50 percent. The largest turnout, according to a Communist Party spokesman, Jan Bisztyga, was in Wloclawek, in central Poland, at 70 percent.

Adam Szostkiewicz, the spokesman for Solidarity's organizing committee in Cracow, said by phone that an informal exit poll of about 100 people in each of the city's nearly 20 districts showed that 75 percent to 80 percent had voted for the union's candidates. 'Huge Step Toward Democracy'

The Government appeared nervous that some of its best-known candidates, running unopposed on the so-called ''national list,'' might fail to receive the required 50 percent.

Major losses on the national list would be a blow to General Jaruzelski, who has sought to use the vote to sweep reform-minded leaders into key posts. Speaking in Gdansk, Mr. Walesa said one of the Communist candidates he had chosen was Tadeusz Fiszbach, the Gdansk party leader in the years 1980-81, when the accords that gave birth to Solidarity were signed. Mr. Fiszbach later left office in disgrace and was named Ambassador to Finland after hard-line party factions prevailed.

General Jaruzelski, while declining to say how he had voted, said he hoped that Poland ''will get peace from these elections.''

''This is a huge step toward democracy,'' the Polish leader said after casting his vote.

First partial returns were expected to begin arriving on Monday, but official results in most election districts were not expected until later this week, after hand counting of the ballots. Concern Over Cheating

Final results will also have to include the votes of thousands of Poles abroad, including large contingents of workers employed in other Communist countries like East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union. But an informal sampling by Western news organizations of about 200 voters in the capital and in Gdansk, the northern port city, found that more than 75 percent had supported Solidarity.

The Government's polling service predicted that Solidarity would win at least 40 of the 55 Senate seats it believed would be decided today. The service gave no details of its poll, and did not say what it expected in the Assembly.

Solidarity officials have expressed concern about the accuracy of counting in large military districts, where Solidarity has been refused entry to count the votes of soldiers. Today, the authorities took pains to allay the concern over possible cheating by admitting reporters to polling stations, where voters entered curtained booths to fill out the complicated sets of ballots, up to seven for each voter.

To ease the process, particularly for elderly voters, Solidarity organizers set up information stands near the entrances to the polling stations. Moreover, the authorities affixed long lists with the candidates' names to the walls of voting stations so that voters could make a last check before entering the voting booth.

Piotr Kardasz, a polling official in Warsaw's northern Zoliborz district near the big Huta Warszawa steel mill said, ''Parliamentary democracy is just getting started here.''

Then, employing the Polish variant of a common adage, he said, '➯ter all, Cracow wasn't built in a day.''

Ex-communists win big in Polish elections / Solidarity loses, with party leaders doubting its future

2001-09-24 04:00:00 PDT Warsaw, Poland -- The successor to Poland's old Communist Party won a landslide victory in national elections yesterday, ousting Solidarity as the governing party and reducing it to a fringe group with no seats in Parliament.

Exit polls indicate that the Democratic Left Alliance, the former Communists, won about 44 percent of the popular vote, enough to control Parliament without a coalition partner.

Solidarity, which has been clinging to power but was decimated by infighting and political scandals, appeared to receive less than 5 percent of the vote. Even longtime Solidarity leaders expressed doubt that the party could survive.

"This is the beginning of the end," said Czeslaw Bielecki, a Solidarity member of Parliament. "The great question during this campaign was not how we could win but how we would lose."

Yesterday's results do not portend a dramatic departure from Poland's aggressive and largely successful transformation to a democratic market economy.

Leaders of the Democratic Left Alliance had reinvented the party along the lines of social democratic parties in Britain, France and Germany.

Indeed, analysts said the strength of the Democratic Left's victory actually improved the chances for Poland to push ahead with tough but necessary reforms. Reining in the country's burgeoning budget deficit with tough spending cuts is at the top of the agenda.

"I certainly hope they have a clear majority, because they will need a majority to make unpopular decisions," said Janusz Reiter, director of the Center for International Relations in Warsaw.

Solidarity, which began as a trade union movement in the shipyards of Gdansk, toppled the Communist regime in 1989 and inspired democracy movements across Central and Eastern Europe.

Solidarity Wins Poland Election - History

It was the first independent mass political movement to emerge in the Soviet bloc.

But the debate continues over Solidarity's significance for the ultimate collapse of East European communism.

On 31 August 1980, Polish government representatives signed an agreement with striking shipyard workers, authorising the establishment of a new trade union free of communist control.

Sixteen months later, the experiment in political co-existence came to an end, with tanks on the streets and mass arrests.

Re-legalised in 1989, Solidarity soon took over Poland's government from the communists - but then rapidly disintegrated amid acrimony and mutual recriminations.

Stalin once said that establishing Communism in Poland was like trying to saddle a cow. The largest of Moscow's post-World War II satellites, Poland had a long history of conflict with Russia, and a tradition of personal freedom, Roman law, and limited government, very different from Russia's.

By the 1970s, many young Poles were travelling to the West to see relatives and to moonlight, their awareness of living in an impoverished backwater becoming more acute.

Then, in 1978, a Polish archbishop, Karol Wojtyla, was elected Pope - taking the name John Paul II. His return visit to Poland the following year turned into a triumphal progress, with millions turning out to greet him.

Gdansk shipyard worker and future Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa, summed up the effect: "The Holy Father, through his meetings, demonstrated how numerous we were. He told us not to be afraid".

On 31 August 1980, the communist authorities conceded the strikers' main demand: their own trade union, independent of communist control. Soon Solidarity was claiming 10 million members.

In Lech Walesa, it also found its "People's Tribune". With his rough and ready manners, mangled grammar, ostentatious Catholic piety and apparent lack of humbug, he was "Our Lech".

Solidarity blatantly contradicted the Soviet principle that every aspect of public life had to be animated and controlled by the Communist Party. It soon evolved into a mass movement for civil and national rights - but of a peculiar kind.

Its intellectual advisers coined the term "self-limiting revolution". Society, they said, would organise itself from below - but would not make a direct grab for power.

The communist regime - hollowed out from inside - would remain as a facade, protecting Poland from Soviet attack.

"We were setting up libraries of independent publishing inside the enterprises," he said. "I have the impression that many workers were only then starting to read books."

But if Solidarity promoted personal and social freedom, the West was not necessarily seen as a model. Solidarity saw itself as driving a moral revolution: an end to the mutual suspicion, self-abasement, double-talk, influence-peddling and corruption of life under communism.

Meanwhile, the Czech and East German authorities successfully exploited traditional anti-Polish prejudices. And as developments in 1981 would amply demonstrate, two of the Polish regime's institutions remained relatively untouched: the army and the secret police.

Years later, Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski sought to justify martial law as the lesser of two evils:

"This was our own sovereign decision - but one which took into account the realities of those times. At that time the socialist system was the reality of that state - its backbone. And toppling that reality would have meant both civil war and foreign intervention."

The Soviet invasion threat has never been proved. Former members of the Soviet leadership have said that armed intervention was discussed - but rejected.

Mr Jaruzelski certainly did Moscow a favour, by sparing it the international opprobrium which would have followed an invasion.

Behind the trappings of a military junta, the Polish leadership tried to reassemble the familiar structures of a communist regime. But the old fear had gone.

Confrontations between demonstrators and the Zomo riot police went on for months. Eventually, the regime, society and the Solidarity underground settled down to a sullen co-existence.

A new reforming Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, paid a visit - but appeared badly out of touch. If Poles wanted their own reformer, he reportedly told a roomful of silent communist activists, they had one in Jaruzelski.

When in 1988 UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher arrived in Gdansk, she was greeted with chants of "Send the Reds to Siberia!"

To its own surprise, Solidarity won all but one of the seats it had been allowed to contest. On 25 August, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a veteran Catholic newspaper editor and Solidarity adviser, was sworn in as prime minister.

But Solidarity's victory proved an anti-climax - being quickly overshadowed by events elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe.

In November 1989 the Berlin Wall came down.

That same month, Prague experienced its own "festival of freedom", when half a million people flocked to Wenceslas Square to hear the future Czech President, Vaclav Havel, denounce the communist regime.

In December, Romania's dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was deposed and shot. Suddenly, Poland's "negotiated transition" looked rather timid.

But it was the younger Communist Party reformers who proved to be quicker on their feet.

In 1990, the Polish Communist Party abandoned Marxism-Leninism, renamed itself the Democratic Left Alliance and redefined itself as a "social-democrat party of the West European type".

In 1993, it won the parliamentary elections and in 1995, its leader Aleksander Kwasniewski defeated Lech Walesa in presidential elections.

Mr Kwasniewski had been a junior minister in the last communist government of the 1980s. In retrospect, he is highly critical of Mr Jaruzelski's decision to impose martial law in 1981, not least because of its longer-term psychological effects:

"We will never know whether - to use the colloquial expression - the 'Ruskis' would have come in and when. Martial law was an evil. Evil, because it was directed against our reviving freedom. Evil, because it quenched revived hopes for a life lived in dignity, for civil liberties and democracy."

Perhaps the summer of 1980 represented a unique moment: when economic crisis, working class discontent, intellectual ferment, a tired and clueless regime, and an upsurge of national pride in the new Pope, combined to produce a dynamic chemical reaction.

However, sectional interests, class prejudices and personal ambitions quickly reasserted themselves.

There have been huge changes in Poland since the fall of communism. Newsreel footage of the Gdansk strikers - moustaches, bad haircuts, polyester trousers and all - show a vanished era, as remote to many younger Poles as top hats and walking sticks.

Lech Walesa still dreams of a political comeback. General Jaruzelski concentrates on his memoirs and on avoiding jail.

Most significantly perhaps, Poles have discovered an unexpected talent for hard work and wealth creation.

But the country's booming "enterprise culture" appears to have little obvious connection with Solidarity's old communitarian ethos - except as an expression of an underlying desire for freedom.


The regular defense of Poland’s frontiers is provided by the border guard. The Office of the Protection of the State (UOP), established in 1990, was charged with the country’s intelligence services. In 2002 it was replaced by the Internal Security Agency (ABW). Normal civilian police services are under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Under the communist government, police services were undertaken by the Citizens’ Militia—of which the Motorized Detachments of the Citizens’ Militia (ZOMO) acted as a mobile paramilitary riot squad—and the Security Service (SB), a secret political police force. In the early 1980s ZOMO played a key role in enforcing martial law and controlling demonstrations. The paramilitary nature of the Policja (“Police”), as they became known after 1990, has diminished.

The Founding of "Solidarity"

Walesa issued the official Charter of the Independent Autonomous Trade Union in Gdansk on September 15, 1980 as Party First Secretary Stanislaw Kania extended the Gdansk Accords to the entire country. On September 17, 1980, Walesa was elected chair of the highest decision-making body of the new national union, the National Coordinating Commission of the Independent Autonomous Trade Union "Solidarity" (NSZZ Solidarność). Leading a large delegation, Walesa presented Solidarity's statutes to the Warsaw District Court on September 24 for registration as required by law. From September to November 1980 Walesa utilized the "strike" mechanism effectively to counter a series of confrontations designed by the authorities to weaken and destroy Solidarity.

On December 16, 1980, Walesa dedicated the long-promised monument to the martyred workers of December 1970 at the gates of the Lenin Shipyard. With only 27 names of the dead conceded by the government, Walesa commemorated the tenth anniversary together with representatives of Solidarity, the Catholic Church, and the Communist Party in a public display of unity. In mid-January 1981 Walesa led a delegation to Rome where he was received by Pope John Paul II and met with Italian trade union leaders.

During 1981 Walesa was frequently called upon to defuse wildcat strikes. To halt rampant strike activity, Walesa acquiesced to Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski's request of February 10 for a 90-day strike moratorium and promise of dialogue on the reform of labor laws.

The unprovoked, violent police action against representatives of Rural Solidarity in Bydgoszcz on March 19, 1981, required the hospitalization of three Solidarity members. Walesa demanded the arrest and prosecution of those responsible. He began a nationwide four-hour warning strike and prepared for a massive, general strike scheduled for March 31, 1981. When the Warsaw Agreement was reached, Walesa drew severe criticism from Solidarity members for his undemocratic actions and for arbitrarily suspending the planned general strike. He was also castigated by members of Rural Solidarity, who were dissatisfied with the outcome. As a result of Walesa's negotiations, however, the weekly journal "Solidarity" (Solidarność) was published a few days later and Rural Solidarity was registered as an independent union on May 12, 1981.

By August 1981 talks between Walesa and government negotiator Mieczyslaw Rakowski collapsed as Solidarity, with ten million members, prepared for its first national congress. Walesa and Solidarity came under fire from fierce propaganda attacks while Soviet military and naval maneuvers increased fears of an invasion. Opening the first session of the national congress in September 1981 in Gdansk, Walesa defended his undemocratic negotiating methods and called for free elections on local and parliamentary levels. Between sessions he pushed through a workers' self-management compromise on worker participation in economic reform at the factory level, which the Sejm (parliament) hastily passed. Walesa was reelected chairman of Solidarity on October 1, 1981.

Solidarity Wins Poland Election - History

The incumbent Polish president Andrzej Duda of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has won the second round of the presidential elections on Sunday. According to unofficial results, Duda received 51 percent of the votes. His rival of the liberal Civic Platform (PO), Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw, received 49 percent.

With 67.9 percent, it was the second-highest turnout for a presidential election since 1989. In several places, voter turnout was at a record high. Compared to the 2015 election, Duda was able to increase his votes by 1.78 million. Trzaskowski won in most urban areas, but Duda dominated in the eastern part of the country and in the rural areas, where the influence of the Catholic Church is paramount.

The elections took place under conditions of a recession that is set to lead to contraction of Poland’s GDP by at least 4.2 percent this year. The World Bank estimates that the eurozone, which is Poland’s most important economic market, is expected to contract by over 9.1 percent. Over one million people are now unemployed, with hundreds of thousands having lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis.

Despite very limited testing, the country records hundreds of new coronavirus infections every day. The mining region of Silesia has been by far the most affected by the pandemic because the government has left the mines open even amid a national lockdown. PiS has been thrown into a serious crisis and was forced to postpone the election from May to June in order to avoid the fall of the government. In the first round of the election two weeks ago, Duda had failed to win an absolute majority and many polls saw Trzaskowski as the likely winner of the election.

The fact that even under these conditions, and after years of relentless promotion of far-right forces and assaults on democratic rights, PiS was able to carry the day, is above all the result of the policies of the liberal opposition. Avoiding any serious discussion of the far-right policies and war preparations of PiS, the opposition consciously chosen to black out all major social and political questions concerning workers from the campaign.

Throughout the campaign, Duda and Jarosław Kaczyński, the de facto head of PiS, repeatedly alleged that Berlin was interfering in the elections. At one of his last rallies, Duda stated that there had been “a German attack in these elections. The Germans want to choose the president in Poland? I will not allow this!”

Duda’s main rival, Trzaskowski, speaks for sections of the Polish ruling class that seek to maintain close ties with Germany, Poland’s largest trading partner, fearing that an exclusive reliance on US imperialism will be unsustainable and harmful for Poland’s foreign policy interests. Trzaskowski has worked closely with Donald Tusk, one of the main leaders of the liberal opposition, who has been an important ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel in the EU.

There is little question that the campaign by the PiS was conducted with the approval, if not direct involvement, of the White House. Days before the first round of the election, Duda had travelled to Washington as the first guest to be received by the White House since the lockdown in the US. In a move unprecedented for a US president amid an election in the EU, Trump effectively endorsed Duda’s campaign, stating that he was doing a “terrific job.”

Trump also announced that many of the troops that he is now pulling out of Germany will be stationed in Poland. The already significant tensions between German and US imperialism have been further heightened in recent months, with Germany exploiting the crisis in the US amid the pandemic, as a pretext to escalate its own remilitarization. The outcome of the Polish election is set to significantly exacerbate these geopolitical tensions, and further deepen the political crisis of the Polish ruling class.

In addition to promoting anti-German sentiments, the PiS made a conscious decision to place appeals to anti-Semitism and homophobia at the center of Duda’s reelection bid. The state-owned TVP broadcaster, which is effectively controlled by the PiS, has aired reports suggesting that Trzaskowski was working for a “powerful foreign lobby” and “rich groups who want to rule the world,” and linked him to the Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, who is one of the main targets of the anti-Semitic right in Eastern Europe. In another broadcast, Trzaskowski was denounced as hostile to Catholics and a believer in the “god of Spinoza” whom TVP described as a “Jewish philosopher.”

Polish state television also ran several features suggesting that Trzaskowski was preparing to sell out the country to “Jewish interests” because he had cautiously suggested that Jewish organizations should be “talked to” in the ongoing dispute over the restitution of Jewish property that had been plundered by the Nazis and Polish collaborators during German occupation of Poland in World War II. TVP stated that satisfying “Jewish claims” would stop “the stream of money that is flowing from the state budget into the pockets of Polish families.”

Before the war, Poland was home to the world’s largest Jewish community of almost 3.5 million 90 percent of them were murdered during the Holocaust. While the Nazis bear primary responsibility for this genocide, they were aided by local fascist and nationalist forces across Eastern and southeastern Europe. Anti-Jewish pogroms by Polish nationalists occurred both during and after the war.

Just three days before Sunday’s election, Jarosław Kaczyński doubled-down on TVP’s anti-Semitic campaign in an interview with the far-right Catholic Radio Station Radio Maria. In the interview, Kaczyński said that “Only someone without a Polish soul, a Polish heart and a Polish mind could say something like that. Mr. Trzaskowski clearly doesn’t have them, seeing as he says that this [restitution of Jewish property] is open to discussion.”

Duda also denounced rights for LGBT as an “ideology” that was more dangerous than “communism” and proposed a constitutional amendment that would bar same-sex couples from adopting children.

Over the past years, the PiS government has systematically encouraged anti-Semitic sentiments. In 2018, president Duda signed a bill into law that bans discussion of Polish anti-Semitism and collaboration in the Holocaust. Government representatives have demonstratively participated in marches of the far-right. However, such open appeals to anti-Semitism had as yet not been such a central part of election campaigns.

In a staggering expression of political cowardice and spinelessness, Trzaskowski made virtually no effort to denounce the blatant anti-Semitism of the PiS. In response to Kaczyński’s attacks broadcast over Radio Maria, Trzaskowski insisted on Twitter that he had “a Polish soul” and “a Polish heart,” and that the opposition would not let the PiS take away its “right to Polish patriotism.” He did not mention the term anti-Semitism.

While avoiding any serious criticism and even discussion of the ever more open appeals to fascist forces by the PiS, Trzaskowski and the liberal opposition also shunned any mention of the burning social crisis that has significantly deepened in recent months. In the eyes of Polish workers, many of whom have been pushed to the brink of financial ruin in recent months, the PO stands above all for policies of austerity. Trzaskowski himself has in the past advocated for the raising of the retirement age. His campaign was focused almost exclusively on appealing to layers of the upper middle class, emphasizing an orientation to the EU and issues like LGBTQ rights.

Underlying this political strategy is the fact that the opposition’s main fear is not the shift toward authoritarianism and the strengthening of fascist forces in Poland under the PiS, but an intervention of the working class in political life. When a national strike by over 300,000 Polish teachers shook the PiS government in the late spring of 2019, the PO-aligned teachers’ unions made every effort to quickly shut it down, thus helping stabilize the PiS government in one of its most severe crises. Moreover, just like the PiS, the PO stands for an escalation of the war preparations against Russia.

The outcome of the elections is a stark warning to workers internationally. The threat of fascism, dictatorship and war can only be countered through the intervention by the working class on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program.

Defence agreement with US

2008 February - The government forges an agreement with the US in principle to host a controversial American missile defence system.

2008 September - Poland's last Communist leader, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, goes on trial in connection with the imposition of martial law in 1981.

2009 May - The IMF approves a one-year credit line for Poland of $20.6 billion to help it weather the global economic crisis.

2010 April - President Lech Kaczynski and many other senior officials are killed in a plane crash while on his way to a ceremony in Russia marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre during World War II.

2010 July - Parliament Speaker and Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski of the centre-right Civic Platform defeats former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski in the second round of presidential elections.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton oversees amended agreement to station US missile defence shield base in Poland.

2010 December - Nigerian-born John Abraham Godson becomes first black member of Polish parliament.

2011 January - Russia's aviation authority blamed Polish pilot error for the Smolensk air crash in which President Lech Kaczynski and many other officials were killed in April 2010.

2011 July - Poland takes over EU rotating presidency for first time since it joined the bloc in 2004.

2011 October - Prime Minister Donald Tusk's centre-right Civic Platform party wins parliamentary elections.

2012 January - A court gives communist-era interior minister Czeslaw Kiszczak a two-year suspended prison sentence in absentia for his role in the martial law crackdown in 1981. The Communist Party leader of the time, Stanislaw Kania, is acquitted.

2013 September - Tens of thousands of protesters march through Warsaw in one of the largest demonstrations in years, organised by trade unions, to demand more jobs and higher pay.

2014 March - Prime Minister Donald Tusk says that Russia's annexation of Crimea cannot be accepted by the international community.

2014 April - Poland asks Nato to station 10,000 troops on its territory, as a visible mark of the Alliance's resolve to defend all its members after Russia's seizure of Crimea.

2014 June - Mr Tusk's ruling coalition narrowly survives a confidence vote triggered by a scandal prompted by leaked tapes of senior government officials appearing to disparage Poland's allies.

2014 September - Prime Minister Donald Tusk resigns to take up the post of president of the European Council. Ewa Kopacz takes over as head of government.

2014 November - Poland adopts a new National Security Strategy that states the country is threatened by war and names Russia as an aggressor in Ukraine.

2014 December - Poland complains of "unprecedented" Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea region, saying Nato is being tested but is not at risk of attack.

2015 April - Poland announces purchase of US Patriot surface-to-air missiles amid rising tension with Russia.

2015 May - Conservative Law and Justice candidate Andrzej Duda beats centrist incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski in presidential election.

2015 October - Law and Justice conservative, Eurosceptic party becomes first to win overall majority in Polish democratic elections.

2015 December - President Duda approves controversial reform making it harder for the constitutional court to make majority rulings, despite large protests and European Union concerns at the implications for oversight of government decisions.

2016 January - European Commission investigates new media law that allows government to appoint heads of state TV and radio as potential "threat to European Union values".

2016 October - Parliament rejects private-member's bill to institute a near-total ban on abortion following mass protests. The governing Law and Justice party decides not to back the bill.

2017 April - Poland welcomes Nato troops deployed in the northeast, as part of efforts to enhance security following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

2017 May - Tens of thousands of people take part in a march in the capital, Warsaw, to protest against what they see as curbs on democracy imposed by the governing Law and Justice Party.

2017 July - President Duda vetoes controversial laws that would have given the government extensive power over the judiciary.

2017 December - Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki takes over as prime minister of the Law and Justice party government.

2018 March - A new law makes it an offence to ascribe Nazi atrocities in occupied Poland to the Polish state.

2019 October - The Law and Justice party maintains its position in the lower house of parliament at general elections, but loses control of the Senate to centre and centre-left parties.

Watch the video: The Revolutions Of 1989 (June 2022).